City declares bike loaner program a success after 35 bikes and "nearly seventy bike enthusiasts" ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Friday, October 5, 2007

City declares bike loaner program a success after 35 bikes and "nearly seventy bike enthusiasts"

They call it Free Wheelin', but the thing that's really free wheelin' in town is our Mayor and our Department of Transportation, whose Director, Danielle Matland says the city’s free bike loaner program was a success because, “It was exciting to show that Annapolis is a city that not only encourages alternative forms but offers access to those modes of transportation.”
Well, that’s partially true, and we are ahead of many cities, but way behind many others. One of the biggest reasons we are behind is because of uncaring and incompetent management. We can and should do better, and providing access to free bikes is important, but the issue is not access to bikes, but roads and paths upon which to ride them, facilities and leadership and an attitude that welcomes and protects bicyclists.

We are only partially a bike-friendly city and this city is doing some things, but not enough, to make it happen. As a frequent rider on city streets, CP and others can attest to the cool reception, the ignorance and lack of interest on the part of the city to encourage us and on the part of our police to enforce our safety. Capital Bicycle’s Parker Jones, a friend and advocate for cycling enthusiasts provided technical support, and assisted in many ways. Capital Bicycles is on Chinquapin Round Rd.
Free Wheelin’ will return next June with enhancements including:● A mobile trailer to house the bikes overnight● An additional spot to sign out bikes● Outreach to medical professionals to assess bike-related injuries
This sounds well and good, but please, please don’t ignore the necessary tri-partite system of design/construction coupled with education and enforcement. Matland says, “We’re asking local medical facilities to track these injuries by noting where the near-accident took place. These places are where to start when considering bike lanes and street expansions and expanding bike trails.”
WHAAAAAT? These types of studies that have examined and rated roads for bike accessibility have been done so many times over so many years and Matland knows it. It’s just a bureaucratic, make-work ploy to put off the work. Furthermore, as part of the City’s agreement with Comcast for the customer shelters at bus stops, we are supposed to have received and installed some 10 custom bike racks…years ago. This has never been done.
We don’t even have a decent bike rack near the Market Space, despite its heavy use. The ugly, old steel and wood rack is pejoratively referred to as a “tire killer” and it’s coming apart!!
Furthermore, a local resident named John Overstreet has compiled and analyzed bike safety records for years in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. These reports are known to the City’s DOT. So why are they embarking on a study about bike injuries? Johns Hopkins has been looking at this for years. Now our own mismanaged Annapolis Transit which can barely keep its buses on the road wants to be a Department of Health? Hey, that raises a question--since helmets are the best way to prevent serious injury, did the city require or provide helmets to these visitors who hopped aboard these free bikes??? Can you imagine the lawsuit???


Big Willie said...

Thanks for the your writing effort to clarify this subject. Annapolis is a beautiful city with a car and rat race driver problem. I ride my bike here almost every day and am berated, intimidated, and even run into by drivers who don't acknowledge my right to travel with the dignity only a bicycle offers-without burning fossil fuel. It's interesting to note that America's obsession with the car parallels America's obesity epidemic- as more and more people drive for all their mobility so too more and more are obese.

Despite irate drivers suggestions, a sidewalk is no place for a 15-20 mph bicyclist. As Steve Carr pointed out on the Green Bike Tour last Fri., the safest place to ride is in the middle of the road, where drivers will definitely see you, and so what if they have to wait all of an extra minute to get where they're going! They were going to spend that time parking anyway. They can spend one on my safety.

PAUL said...

I like that--a rat race driver problem... ha ha... thanks

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